Coders And Programmers

Jun 5, 2014

I’m not sure where the conversation started this time, but it has come up again. Someone on the Internet assumes that being able to code is all there is to building apps. That as long as a person can code, that’s all they need.

And in fact, they could just find anyone that knows how to code, tell them what to do, and off they go punching keys and writing code.

Obviously, nothing could be further from the truth. Programming is such a small piece of the puzzle.

Dave Winer took offense, and felt strongly enough to write on his blog about he felt.

Dave makes some really great points. I want to touch on a few of them.

An Immature Industry

Dave says that he is frustrated with the term coder because it seems to go over our head. That it misses some very important parts of our industry, noting leadership and developing new talent. He says that this is due to an immature industry.

I’m not sure I think it goes over our head. I think it’s simply ignorance and a lack of effort to understand how software systems are built; web, mobile, or otherwise. To blanket us as coders simply gives someone that doesn’t understand our industry and is too lazy to try a blanket term to use. I think this is because they don’t understand. The equivalent of saying I’m not good with computers. Lack of effort.

Dave also jokes about calling a reporter a keypresser, making the comparison that minimizing the software industry down to someone sitting in a chair entering text into a text editor, is no different from saying a reporter just presses keys.

I agree with Dave, but I don’t think this gets us anywhere. This just gives the other industry (the lazy one bundling us as coders) a reason to shrug us off.

But I don’t know a better solution. I guess it’s education. But that raises another problem. If someone is too lazy to bother researching how software is built, they surely won’t bother reading or watching what we produce to help educate them. Although, it’s probably still worthwhile.

Dave and I agree that developer is the best term. It fits what I do when building software. It’s not just programming. It’s thinking, designing (visually and architecturally), and then programming. To have an idea for something and take it from an initial thought to a finished product. Programming is such a small part of that.

The Art of Building Software

The problem I have with this programmer/coder talk is that it boils it down to a commodity. It’s not longer a craft or an art. It’s just an activity. I feel it attempts to reduce it to a statement like Take a few classes and you too can be a coder. It’s easy.

I prefer the creator route. That’s how I started. I didn’t even know I wanted to be a developer. I just wanted to build stuff on the web and it just kinda grew organically with each step.